Andy stared at the clock on her nightstand. She should be tired; she was up for twenty-four hours straight. But then again, it was 2pm. She thought back to her first job at the Mirror three years ago. Things were simpler then, when she was writing the In the Community daily column. As a political report for the Post, and during a presidential season at that, she was overworked. The internet actually made her job more competitive—anyone could post a video or audio clip, and suddenly she lost her exclusive. And then there was Twitter.
Speak of the devil, she thought, rolling her eyes as she saw a new notification. She opened the app and was surprised to see several urgent messages:
@nyprgod: @andysachsWP are you seeing this? bomb threat @ecpublications…the place is on lockdown
@brooklynsquid: whoa, reports of a bomb at #eliasclark. @andysachsWP, didn’t you used to work there?
@cattybrat09: i’ll bet #mirandapriestly doesn’t let everyone leave until work is done for the day. #eliasclark #newyork #hashtagsaremylife
@nycfiredept334: situation escalating near #eliasclark. please use alternate routes to allow first responders a clear path.
She was certainly awake now. Pulling her sweatshirt over her head and slipping on her running shoes, she grabbed her bag and ran out the door of her tiny, overpriced studio, for once feeling grateful that she was only a few blocks away from the action.
When she stepped out onto the street, cars and people passed by like any other day. As she got closer, she saw the firetrucks and SWAT team assembled in the plaza around the corner. Pulling out her media credentials, she hurried over to get any information.
“Hey Alex! What’s the story?” she asked, quickly spotting one of the lieutenants she had come to know.
“We don’t know. There was a 911 call that there were shots fired on one of the upper floors, then another call that the shooter had a bomb inside Elias Clarke. We haven’t been able to get a visual yet, but they’re slowly trying to evacuate the building,” he said.
“Did they say what floor?” Andy asked.
Alex shook his head, but she knew he was lying to her. Andy made her way over to a few of the firefighters who were standing by.
“Hey guys - what floor did they say this was on?” she asked. “It sounded like Alex said 16 but with those horns honking I missed it.”
“No, it’s 26,” one of the men responded.
And with that Andy froze. The 26th floor was where Miranda’s office was.
She sent out a few tweets describing the scene and the situation, then she called the main office number at Runway, which, presuming it hadn’t been changed, would ring the assistants’ desks in the outer office.
The call went to voicemail, and she felt her heart drop. Miranda.
Fumbling through her wallet, she pulled out a piece of paper and dialed the number, silently praying that she wasn’t in the building.
“Who is this? How did you get my number?”
“Miranda, wait, it’s Andy—Andrea Sachs. Please,” she said. When she was confident the editor was not going to hang up on her, she took a deep breath. “There’s a security concern at Elias Clarke—reports of a shooter and an explosive device. They said it was the 26th floor,” she said.
After a few moments of silence, Andrea spoke again.
“Miranda? Are you still there?”
“Yes, I, um…”
“Are you in your office?”
“Yes. Andrea, this is absurd. Why should I believe you? Everything is perfectly normal here.”
“Miranda,” Andrea said, “I am begging you to get out of that building.”
“And everyone else?” Miranda asked. Andy swore she heard papers rustling in the background.
“I don’t give a fuck about anyone else right now!” Andy shouted, a little surprised at her own reaction. “Please,” she said. “I’ll meet you outside in ten minutes. Or don’t even meet me. Just promise me you are leaving—okay?”
“Yes. That’s all.”
The next few minutes stretched out agonizingly slowly. She leaned against a streetlight as her eyes were focused upward at the gleaming building, where somewhere, Miranda was hopefully on her way down to street level.
That’s when she heard the blast. Three pops in rapid succession, shattering windows and stopping traffic. People on the street began to panic and scream. Onlookers pulled out their cell phones to take a video.
Andy quickly pulled her DSLR camera from her bag and snapped a few shots, then took a low-res one with her phone and sent a few more tweets. She reminded herself that it was her duty to report the news, but she couldn’t help but think of Miranda.
Inside, Miranda packed up her bag and grabbed her coat, marching off to the elevators like it was any other day. She waited an unusually long amount of time for the elevator, pressing the button repeatedly. She could hear the car passing by her floor, but it was not stopping. Suddenly, she realized the young reporter was likely telling the truth.
With groan of annoyance, she headed for the stairs and began making her way down. After three flights, she stopped to take off her heels, then continued down. It was eerily quiet, not that she really had anything to compare it to. That’s when she heard it, three explosions somewhere above her, echoing throughout the metal corridor.
She picked up the pace, practically running down the stairs, and pulled out her phone to call the girls. They were in school, so of course she expected their phones to be on silent in their locker, but she wanted to at least leave them a voicemail.
“Cassidy? Honey, aren’t you in school?”
“Mom!” Caroline shouted into the phone. “Oh my god, we were so scared!”
“We are watching the news at school. Our teacher let us take our phone out,” Cassidy said. “Are you at Elias Clarke?”
“I am. But I am on my way out—I’m on the sixth floor,” she said, glancing up. “Just stay with your teacher. I will be there to pick you up soon, okay?”
“We love you, Mommy,” Caroline said.
“Oh, Bobbseys, Mommy loves you both so much. But it’s all going to be okay, my loves. I will see you soon,” she said before ending the call.
When she reached the fourth floor the stairwell stopped and she exited, shocked and relieved to see police officers and security guards directing her and many others towards the main escalators. On the ground floor, security led the people out of the building and into the street which had been blocked off.
“Stay calm, and please move away from the building,” a police officer reminded them.
Miranda picked up her phone and redialed the last incoming call.
“Where are you?”
“Outside—in the street. I made it out,” she said.
Miranda looked around. “Um, next to the loading zone sign in front of the Realtors building.”
“Okay, STAY THERE. I am coming to you,” she said.
Miranda took a deep breath and stopped, looking around, trying to spot the brunette through the crowd. “I talked to the girls. They are showing the news coverage at school,” she said.
“I didn’t even think about that—they must have been worried sick,” Andrea said. “Okay, I see you. Wait just one more minute.”
Miranda sighed. She wasn’t sure why she was waiting, not when she needed to see her girls.
“Hey, you’re okay,” Andrea said, finally standing next to the editor.
“I am. And you’re…dressed in rags. Really, Andrea did you learn nothing?”
Andy softly bit her lower lip and cast her eyes downward—that’s when she noted the editor was barefoot and that her Prada pumps were sticking out of her bag.
She reached out for Miranda’s hand. “I actually dress much better, you’d be proud. I worked the graveyard shift last night, then was woken up by news of this, and I came over as fast as I could,” she said.
They looked at each other for a few minutes in silence, neither sure what to say next. Andy finally stepped closer and wrapped her arms around the woman, hugging her tightly and whispering that she was glad she’s okay.
“Andrea, thank you. We need to go to Dalton now, come along,” she said, taking her hand and leading her away.
The young woman followed for a few minutes, then stopped suddenly in place. “Miranda, wait,” she said.
Miranda reached up and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Andrea, I can’t—right now I need to get to Dalton and see my girls. You are welcome to come home with me. Once I get my girls home safely, you and I can talk,” she said.
“Okay, um, great. I was actually going to suggest we try to catch a taxi. We’re far enough away—traffic seems to be moving a little bit. And,” she added quietly, “we’re heading in the wrong direction.”
“Are you serious?” Miranda asked, stopping and staring blankly at the young woman. She looked around, and realized that in her haste to get away from Elias Clarke, she inadvertently led them in the other direction.
Andrea quickly hailed a taxi and held the door while Miranda climbed in. Andrea gave the driver the address of Dalton school, and explained the traffic and street closings around Elias Clarke that he would need to avoid.
Miranda groaned at the putrid smell of the cab and reached for her cell phone, calling the girls to let them know she was on her way and would be there soon. “Andrea, call—never mind,” she said.
“No, what is it?”
“I was hoping to secure a black car at Dalton, but forget it. I’ll figure something out.”
“I can call for a car for you if you’d like,” Andrea said. “I don’t mind, really.”
“I can’t ask you to do that,” she said.
Andrea reached over and put her hand on the woman’s knee. “I know you won’t be able to relax until you’re with the girls, but just try. Let me take care of this for you.”
The woman nodded and reached down to rub her aching feet while Andrea called for a car.
The ride stretched on. Traffic was worse than usual for a Thursday afternoon, but judging by what Andy could gather from Twitter, it looked like the police was treating the Elias Clarke situation as a possible terrorist threat, so everything in the city was on lockdown, including the subways and trains. Andy could feel the anxiety radiating off the editor, but she was unsure what to say or do, so they rode in complete silence, except for the few calls Miranda accepted from the girls.
Andy noted that Miranda’s phone was ringing like crazy—likely others trying to ascertain whether she was okay. Quickly realizing that Miranda must have felt some sort of guilt for running out of the building, she began to understand why she was declining calls.
When they arrived at Dalton, Miranda ran out of the car before it came to a complete stop. There were a lot of photographers camped out around the school, but Andy knew the woman didn’t care about that. If they wanted to post a picture of her running barefoot into Dalton and hugging her daughters after the events of the day, that would be the last thing on her mind.
“Ma’am, that will be $64.25,” the driver said.
Andy sighed and pulled out her credit card. She climbed out of the cab and looked around, quickly spotting the plates of the black car that she had sent to retrieve Miranda and the girls. Walking over to them, she gave them Miranda’s home address and stepped aside as she checked Twitter and responded to messages, updating the situation as best she knew.
@andysachsWP: unbelievable scene at #eliasclark today. unconfirmed reports that #mirandapriestly was not in the building at the time.
She added that bit, not knowing how Miranda would want to handle the press. Folks on Twitter were pretty awful, saying that she should have been shot, or worse, that she orchestrated it all. No doubt there would be security tapes of her leaving the building eventually, but anything she could do to diffuse the situation, she was happy to.
“Girls, you remember Andrea, right?” Miranda said as she walked over.
The girls both said hello to her and climbed into the car. Their eyes were red from crying, and Andrea could only imagine how they had felt for the past hour.
“All of your photos posted of my reunion with my daughters?” Miranda snapped.
“What? No. No, I didn’t take any,” Andy said. “Seriously, look,” she handed over her phone.
Miranda pulled up the photos and saw the building and surrounding scene, but nothing of her. As she was about to hand the phone back, she noticed a notification from Twitter and clicked on it, seeing that someone had retweeted her previous message. “Unconfirmed reports?” she asked.
“Trying to diffuse,” she said with a shrug.
“Oh right. No one cares if I survived,” she said.
“Actually, on the contrary, the overwhelming majority is hoping you were one of the victims,” Andy snapped back. She had been too long without sleep and wasn’t up for playing Miranda’s games.
Miranda rolled her eyes and gestured a the car. “I do hope you’ll get in sometime today.”
“Oh! I should really be going home.”
“Andrea,” the woman threatened.
“Fine. But I need a nap.”
Miranda nodded, and Andy climbed into the car.
Once they arrived at the Townhouse, Miranda had to direct the car to pull around back to their private drive so they could avoid some of the paparazzi. Miranda sent the girls upstairs to wash up, and after dismissing Cara, she gestured for Andrea to follow her up the stairs.
“You may rest here in the guest room,” she said. “There should be some toiletries in the en suite if you need to shower or freshen up. We will be having dinner at 7.”
“Thank you,” Andy said. The thought of a hot shower sounded wonderful, so she quickly rinsed off, then collapsed on the bed, still wrapped in towels.
Meanwhile, Miranda changed into some comfortable clothes and went in search of her daughters. She found them huddled on Caroline’s bed, watching something on one of their iPads.
“Bobbseys? What are you watching?” Miranda asked.
Cassidy quickly turned the iPad off and tucked it under her pillow. “Nothing,” they said in unison.
Miranda knew better, but decided to let it go. Instead, she squeezed onto the bed between her girls and hugged and kissed them both. “I was so scared that I would never see you two again,” she said. “And I have Andrea to thank for that. She called me, and in a very no-nonsense way, demanded that I leave the building immediately.”
Cassidy giggled, but Caroline pressed on. “So you just did what she said?”
“Well, no. At first I told her she was ridiculous and insane, and then she used a swear word or two, and that was my first clue that she was serious. Then, I began to think of you two,” she said, kissing them both on the tops of their heads. “If there was any chance that she was right—because really, she had no reason to lie to me about this—I could never forgive myself if I had a chance to leave and didn’t. So I went to the elevators, and after waiting a few minutes, I realized security had somehow disabled the buttons on my floor.”
“Mom! What did you do?”
“Well, I went to the stairs, calmly. And when I got to the bottom, there were police everywhere, and the street out front was blocked off. I met up with Andrea, and then we came to get you from school,” she said.
“What about everyone else at Runway?” Caroline asked.
“Yeah we heard that seven people were injured,” Cassidy added.
“You ‘heard,’ huh?” Miranda said.
Cassidy nodded and turned away.
“Listen. I didn’t see anything. As soon as I left, my only thought was about getting to you, and getting you home safe. And you girls know our policy about watching the news, right? Not without me,” she added, glancing over at the iPad sticking out from underneath the pillow.
“So, um, Andy kind of saved your life?” Cassidy asked.
“Yes. I might not have gotten out of the building in time were it not for her. I know she is exhausted, but I am hoping she stays the night with us so I can talk to her a little bit more. I showed her to the guest room upstairs.”
“Okay. Um, do we have to go to school tomorrow?” Caroline asked.
“No,” Miranda said quickly. “And I will not be going in to work tomorrow, either. I need to find out more information first, and there will surely be people I need to talk to.” She took a deep breath and hugged the girls tightly. “Are you both okay?” They nodded and she scooted off the bed. “Okay, I am going to clean up a little. I told Andrea we’d have dinner at 7.”
“Andy? Wake up,” Cassidy said, nudging her shoulder.
The brunette opened her eyes and saw two redheads staring back at her.
“Hey, I’m up. What time is it?”
“6:58. Dinner is in two minutes. Mom doesn’t like us to be late,” Caroline said, grabbing her sister and running out of the room.
“Shit,” Andy said, jumping up to get dressed. She noticed a pair of black yoga pants and a gray shirt on the bed, so she put those on, threw her hair into a braid, and ran downstairs.
Miranda was clearly surprised that Andy came downstairs on time, but said nothing. Dinner consisted of chicken breast with some sort of pasta, and asparagus, of which Miranda only ate the chicken and asparagus. For dessert, though, Andy was surprised to see Miranda cutting four slices of chocolate cake and reaching into the freezer for ice cream. She dished out mint chocolate chip for Caroline and Cassidy and a small scoop of butter pecan for herself.
“Andrea, do you have a preference?” she asked.
“Um, no ice cream for me. Thanks.”
Miranda tilted her head and looked at the young woman, trying to read her expression.
“I try to avoid dairy,” Andy added.
“We have some coconut milk ice cream if you’d prefer?” Miranda said.
“No, but thank you so much. The cake is fine.”
Miranda smiled and put the ice cream back in the freezer, then cut another slice of cake and added it to Andy’s plate.
“Mom! That’s like, cake with a side of cake!” Cassidy said.
“‘What would you like with your cake?’ ‘Oh, I’ll have a side of cake, thank you,’” Caroline imitated as both girls erupted into giggles.
“Girls. Andrea, I cut smaller slices of cake thinking we would all be indulging in ice cream, so I apologize.”
Andy’s eyes widened. “Thank you,” she said. “I love chocolate cake.”
After dinner, Andy helped Miranda clear the table, loading the dishwasher while Miranda wrapped the leftovers and placed them in the refrigerator. When she finished loading the dishes, Miranda reached out and took her hand.
“I am going to spend some time with my daughters, after which I am certain they will want to go to bed early. The girls and I are both staying home tomorrow. You are welcome to stay with us, in the guest room. Actually, I hope you will stay. I would like to speak to you further, but this afternoon has been trying—and I’m sure you have your own work to get to.” Her voice trailed off in a strange way, as if there was more she was going to say but decided against it.
“As long as you don’t mind, I will stay. I’ll check in with my editor while you’re with the girls. Just, um, well, come find me in the guest room when you’re ready,” she said.
Miranda nodded and watched the young woman walk out of the kitchen.
Several hours later, once the girls were in bed, Miranda turned her phone back on and began sorting through her messages. Before she could even get to her emails, she saw an urgent text message from Leslee: Before you say or do anything, CALL ME.-ld
Not one to disobey, she quickly dialed the woman’s cell.
“Yes. Hello, Leslee.”
“Jesus, it’s good to hear your voice. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I am at home and I just sent the girls to bed.”
“Where were you today? How did you get out of Elias Clark?”
“Andrea Sachs, my former assistant, now reporter at the Post, called me and demanded I leave the building.”
“And you did. Just like that?”
Miranda thought for a moment. “Yes. She had no reason to lie to me. I trust her immensely.”
“I didn’t realize you two kept in touch. I remember Andy—she was one of the good ones.”
“Yes, still is, apparently. And no, we hadn’t spoken in four years.”
“Miranda, have you seen the news?”
Leslee sighed. “Okay, um, so a woman got past security with a rolling suitcase, claiming she had something that she needed to deliver to you personally. The suitcase was full of explosives. She corralled eighteen people into conference room on 26 and demanded to know where your office was, but no one would say a word. Her motive is unclear, but one of the witnesses remembered her talking about her daughter. Swat teams were assembled down the hall, but before they could reach her, the explosives went off. There were twelve employees killed in the blast, plus the shooter. Another six are at the hospital in critical condition.”
After a few minutes of silence, Leslee checked to see if Miranda was still on the line. “Hello??”
“I—I’m still here. I don’t know what to say. Who was it?”
“I emailed you the list of victims. Most were actually from Auto Universe, because they were using the conference room. A few people from your staff, though—Paul, Jocelyn, and Elizabeth—were among the fatalities. Serena, Emily, and Claire are among those in critical condition.”
“Oh my god.”
“I’m sorry, Miranda. I know this isn’t easy, but,” she paused and took a deep breath, “it doesn’t look good that you left.”
“Leslee, this is what I pay you for. Find a way to spin it. Surely someone has a photo of me running barefoot away from the building, hugging Andrea with tears in my eyes, running up to the girls at Dalton. Where were the photographers then?”
“Wait, you hugged Andrea?”
“Nothing. I mean, that just seems unlike you. I’ve never seen you hug anyone aside from your daughters. Maybe that’s the angle.”
“Your girlfriend is a reporter. She’s terrified for your life when she sees the news developing. She convinces you to leave the building, you reunite,” Leslee said. “Too bad she didn’t go home with you, then it’d be a no-brainer.”
Miranda choked on her water.
“I know it’s unrealistic, but that’s the kind of story I need.”
“Les, Andrea is upstairs in the guest bedroom right now.”
“What!? This is a gift, Miranda. An absolute gift. Let me go drop some hints and try to locate a picture of you two. I’ll call you back,” she said, hanging up.
Miranda sighed. As much as she wanted to tell Leslee to stop and that she would need to confer with Andrea first, she was a tiny bit curious to see how things would play out.
She switched on the television and skimmed through the news reports, shocked at the horrific scene she saw.
A short while later, Andy went downstairs for a bottle of water. On her way back from the kitchen, she saw the flickering light of the television coming from the den and carefully peered around the corner, gasping at what she saw. Miranda was curled up on the couch, sobbing into a blanket.
Andy walked over and sat next to her on the couch, draping her arm around the woman’s shoulders. The editor looked up through bloodshot eyes, but Andy just nodded and hugged her closely while she cried.
“Shh, you’re okay. You’re safe,” she whispered as she softly stroked her back.
After a few minutes, Miranda sat up and wiped her eyes. “She wanted me. She came for me, not all of them. They were innocent.”
Andy reached out and took the woman’s hands. “And you are innocent, too. You are not to blame here. You did nothing wrong, Miranda.”
“Elizabeth Welch was my assistant. She knew where I was. She protected me and it cost her her life,” Miranda cried.
“And I would have done the same, Miranda. I am sure you feel guilty right now, but you have to know that short of sacrificing yourself, there’s nothing you could have done. You have two little girls here who love and adore you. You were thinking about them.”
“It’s so selfish,” she said.
“Yes, but I think it’s okay to be selfish like that sometimes,” she said. “Come on, let’s go to bed. You’ll feel better in the morning.”
Not long after Andy crawled into bed, she heard a soft knock at the door. She watched as Miranda let herself in and cautiously made her way to the edge of the bed. “I can’t sleep,” she said. “I keep hearing the explosion and imagining the victims…”
“Come here,” Andy said as she scooted over and patted the mattress next to her.
Miranda reluctantly crawled into bed and curled up alongside the young woman.
“Is that better?” Andy asked, reaching over and tucking Miranda’s hair behind her ear.
Miranda nodded. “Thank you for keeping me safe,” she said quietly, pressing a light kiss to Andy’s cheek.
The next morning, Andy woke and could hardly take a deep breath. She was hot and there was a weight on her chest. Cracking one eye open, she saw the culprit: Miranda Priestly was asleep on top of her. Careful not to wake her, she remained still. Miranda had an exhausting day and needed her sleep, she reasoned. It’s just—when she invited the woman into her bed last night, she didn’t expect to actually touch her, let alone wake up beneath her. Her arm was starting to tingle, so she tried to gently switch positions, rolling Miranda onto her side.
“Mmmm,” the editor groaned, her eyes still closed tight. “Don’t leave me,” she said sleepily.
“Hey,” Andy said, shaking her gently, but enough to wake her up. “It’s time to get up. The girls will be up any minute,” Andy added.
Miranda blinked her eyes open. After the initial look of fear passed through her eyes, she relaxed and laid her head against the young woman’s chest.
“How are you this morning?” Andy asked, gently stroking her back.
“I wish I could stay in bed like this all day. I haven’t slept that well in ages,” she said.
Andy smiled and met the woman’s eyes. She was shocked to find something else there—desire. Miranda’s eyes focused on her lips, and then back up to her eyes, and within seconds their lips were pressed together.
“Moooom?!” Cassidy shouted.
“Fuck,” Miranda whispered, pulling away. “Hold that thought,” she said, pressing her finger to Andy’s lips.
“In here!” she said, sitting up and straightening out her shirt and her hair.
Cassidy and Caroline came bursting through the door and stopped dead in their tracks. “Whoa,” Caroline said as she looked from her mother to Andy back to her mother.
“I couldn’t sleep after everything yesterday,” she said. She always believed in being honest with her daughters and not hiding anything. “Andy talked to me until I fell asleep.”
Cassidy shrugged. “Cara’s downstairs and wants to know if you guys want pancakes, and if you are going to eat with us.”
Miranda looked over at the young woman, and started laughing when she saw her wagging her eyebrows. “I didn’t even need to ask. Of course we would love some pancakes. Give us five minutes and we’ll be downstairs,” she said.
Once the girls left, Miranda turned to the young woman and kissed her. “This is going to sound ridiculous in the wake of everything that’s happened,” she said, “but falling asleep and waking up with you has been incredible, and I think I want that everyday.”
“Wow, um, yes, I mean, I agree,” Andy stammered.
“Good. It’s settled. You’ll move in next week. Now, don’t be late for breakfast,” she said, climbing out of bed and throwing on a robe.
“Yes, Miranda,” the young woman said, grinning and thanking her lucky stars.
Breakfast was a quiet affair. Unlike dinner the previous night, the girls were quiet, suspiciously quiet. And it looked like Andy wasn’t the only one to notice.
“Girls, spit it out,” Miranda said.
“What?!” Cassidy whined.
“Yeah, we’re just sitting here eating pancakes,” Caroline added.
“You obviously have something on your mind. I haven’t heard you eat this quietly,” she paused for a minute, “since before you learned to speak. You know you can always talk to me about anything, so what’s bothering you?”
Caroline sat back and crossed her arms before looking over at Andy, who was awkwardly trying not to eavesdrop on a family conversation.
“Andrea?” Miranda asked. “Well if you don’t feel comfortable saying it in front of her, we can talk after breakfast, okay?”
Caroline rolled her eyes. “No. Her, your girlfriend. Mom, why didn’t you tell us?! How long has this been going on?”
Miranda’s eyes widened and she looked over at the young woman who was practically choking on her coffee.
“I’m not her girlfriend,” Andy clarified quickly.
“Darling, let me handle this,” Miranda said, reaching and taking Andy’s hand in hers. “Andrea and I are exploring a friendship of sorts. Yesterday was an emotional day, and we sort of realized that we cared whether the other lives or dies.” She met Andy’s eyes and nodded. “You know the media will say anything and everything they can about me, and you know that you should not be reading it, let alone believing it.”
“Sorry, Mom,” they said in unison.
“Now, I talked to Leslee last night, and she’s doing whatever she can to minimize the press, but I presume we will have photographers camped out front for a few days. I’ll have Eliz—” she paused and swallowed.
Andy saw the color drain from her cheeks, and carefully squeezed her hand. “We’ll call the police as soon as we are finished here, and have them take care of the situation out front,” she said, looking over at Miranda, who nodded in agreement. “And then both your mom and I have a little bit of work to take care of today. Maybe you can get your homework from your teachers and we can all get some work done before lunch. How does that sound?”
“Okay,” Caroline said. “We’ll go check our email now. Come on, Cass.”
“Only email and school-related websites, girls. Stay off social media,” Miranda said.
“Yeah, we know, Mom,” Cassidy said as they got up to put their dishes in the kitchen.
“Andy?” Caroline said, pausing before she left the room. “I didn’t mean anything against you by what I said before.”
“Oh sweetie, I know. Don’t worry, we can talk more later,” Andy said.
Once they were upstairs, Miranda sighed and squeezed Andrea’s hand, then stood up from the table, heading into the kitchen. Andy knew better than to follow the woman, but she didn’t need to. She could hear her entire conversation with Cara.
“Do you have any idea where they are getting the idea that Andrea is my girlfriend from?” she asked, pouring herself another cup of coffee.
“I do, and I am sorry—I was expecting you to be first downstairs, so I had the papers laid out like you like them. The girls came down and started looking through them before I could stop them. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize everyone would be staying home today,” she said.
“That’s fine. I understand. Where are the papers?”
“Oh, I put them here,” she said, reaching into a drawer and pulling them out.
Miranda thanked her and returned to the table, where Andrea was finishing her coffee. “The girls saw the papers this morning,” Miranda said, holding up the stack. “Care to join me?”
Andrea followed her into the den and watched as she pulled out the Times. On the front page was a picture of smoke billowing out of the twenty-sixth floor. Inside, there was a large photo of Andy and Miranda hugging amidst a crowd of panicked people.
“Shoot. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have hugged you yesterday,” Andy said.
“I am glad you did. I also think it’s this picture that is helping to make me not seem like a criminal here,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll let you read the stories, but I don’t know if all the details are out. I talked to Leslee last night,” she said, and she relayed all the details she knew of the shooter and the injuries.
“That’s horrible. Do you know who it was or what she might have wanted with you?”
Miranda shook her head. “That is likely why the Police Chief has been calling me every hour. I would like to talk to Emily, Serena, and Claire today if they’re up to it. And the victims, I don’t know what to do,” she said.
Andrea put her arm around Miranda and hugged her, resting her head on the woman’s shoulder. “What about a scholarship fund or fellowship in Elizabeth’s name? I’m sure her parents would appreciate that,” she suggested.
“Elizabeth had a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. I could easily make that fellowship happen. That’s a wonderful idea, thank you,” she said. “Now, I just don’t know what to say to her parents. They probably hated me anyway, and now this… They are going to blame me. If it wasn’t for me, their daughter would still be alive. I can’t argue with them.”
“Well, you can plan to call them tomorrow. Maybe you can talk to the Chancellor at Columbia today first,” Andy suggested.
“You have no idea how I’ve missed you, Andrea. I am sorry that I didn’t realize it until all of this.”
Andy smiled and hugged her tightly. “Can I help with anything? Sending flowers to the injured in the hospital, maybe? And I can get Em and Serena’s phone numbers.”
“That would be immensely helpful,” Miranda said. “I’m going to go shower and get dressed—I’ll pull something from my closet for you as well. Then we can work from my office upstairs.”
“Thanks. I have a few work-related calls to take care of this morning, and I’ll take those in the guest room so I don’t disturb you,” she said.
Miranda nodded and stood from the couch, heading upstairs. She led Andy to her bedroom and gathered a pair of workout pants and a few tops she could choose from.
As the young woman was about to leave, Miranda pulled her back and out of view of the doorway. She softly caressed her cheek and pressed a kiss to her lips. “I’ll see you in a bit,” she said. “Are you okay with all of this?” she asked, tucking a stray hair behind the young woman’s ear.
“Yeah. It’s a lot to process, but it’s okay,” she said with a half smile. “Did you mean what you said in front of the girls—about caring whether I lived or died? I mean, it’s okay if you didn’t, but, I was just curious.”
“Yes, Andrea, I meant that. I do care, and I think I have always cared—I just didn’t realize it. Do you want to talk more now?”
Andy shook her head. “It can wait. See you in a bit,” she said, stealing a quick kiss and then heading out to the guest bedroom.
While Miranda showered, Andrea quickly changed into the borrowed clothes and sent an email to her editor, letting him know she was taking the day off. She had quite a few missed calls and texts—likely her friends and family who recognized her photo in the news. That gave her an idea—she was going to call her mom and ask for advice.
“Andy? Honey, I’ve been trying to call you all morning. Are you okay?”
“Hi, Mom. Yes, I’m fine. The past twenty-four hours have been crazy.”
“I saw the photo of you and Miranda in the paper. I didn’t know you still kept in touch—what was going on?” she asked.
“That’s what I want to talk to you about. No, I didn’t really keep in touch, but I was following the developing story when I found out it was all happening on the same floor of the building that Runway is in. I know people there, and I called and there was no answer. In a panic, I called Miranda and told her to get out of the building as fast as she could,” Andy said.
“You still care about her, huh? After all this time?”
“I do. I always have. And she cares about me, too.”
Andy’s mother did not reply.
“Mom? I’m serious. Sure she has unbelievably high expectations at work, but outside of work she’s a human being with a big heart. She just—” Andy paused to chuckle, “she doesn’t know how to use it.”
“Well, I hope you know what you’re doing, sweetie.”
“I do, Mom. Can I ask you something? One of the victims yesterday was Miranda’s assistant. She feels incredibly guilty because the explosives were intended for her, and she wants to reach out to the girl’s parents but isn’t sure what to say. She is going to look into setting up a fellowship at Columbia where the girl graduated from, but I guess I’m asking you, since you remember what it was like when I was an assistant,” she paused and took a deep breath. “If it was me who was killed while working for her, what could she possibly say to make you feel better, if anything at all?”
“Oh honey, I don’t know that I would even want to talk to her, nor would I care about allaying her feelings of guilt. It wouldn’t bring my daughter back, so I probably wouldn’t care.”
“Even if it just happened to be a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time situation? You wouldn’t care to know that?” Andy asked.
“No. I wouldn’t. Maybe in a few years, but not right away. The only thing that could have helped would be seeing Miranda hurt, seeing her pain. Screaming at her, or something like that. The last thing I would want to see would be her hugging her friends or her daughters because it’s just not fair.”
“Okay, thanks, Mom. I’m going to share that with Miranda. She feels awful, but like I said, she’s inexperienced with emotional things. She has good intentions, but her delivery is, well, not exactly compassionate.”
“You’re intimate with her?”
“What? No! I mean, where did you get that?” Andy said.
“Honey, I know you. I know how you talk about people. She’s had your heart for years.”
Andy sighed. “I guess she has, hasn’t she?”
“Don’t let her take advantage of you. She’s probably feeling vulnerable—make sure it’s about her and you, that it’s not just you comforting her.”
“Thanks, Mom. I gotta go.”
“Okay. I love you, Andy. Call me tomorrow?”
“I will. Bye.”
Andy took a deep breath and headed towards the study, gently knocking before entering. Miranda was at her desk, talking quietly into the phone. Andy couldn’t help but notice how tired her voice sounded.
“I’ve got to go. Call the house if you need anything,” she said, hanging up the phone.
Andy approached the editor and walked behind her, gently kneading her shoulders. “What can I do for you?” she asked.
Miranda chuckled. “You shouldn’t ask me such open-ended questions, or I might have to take you up on that.”
“I wouldn’t have said it if I wasn’t willing to follow through,” Andy said. She spun Miranda’s chair around and sank to her knees, her hands caressing the tops of her thighs.
The young woman’s hands further and she quickly pushed them away. “Andrea, get up,” she said huskily.
Andy sat back on her heels and slowly stood to her feet. “I’m sorry. I misinterpreted.”
“I can’t—not right now. My daughters could walk in at any minute. I’m not in my right mind, and it wouldn’t be fair to you,” she said. “But know that I do appreciate the sentiment.”
Andy smiled. “I’m sorry, really. To change the subject, I spoke with my mom this morning. She mentioned that if it had been me, back when I was your assistant, she wouldn’t have wanted to talk to you except to scream at you. I’m not saying not to reach out to Elizabeth’s parents, just maybe reconsider your approach?”
Miranda nodded. “I do not expect it will be a pleasant call.”
“Maybe just make it less about your guilt and more about your condolences,” Andy said.
Miranda didn’t say anything, instead focused her eyes back on her computer. Andy took that as her cue to get to work.
Later that afternoon, the girls were off watching a movie. Andy was sitting in the den, working on a few articles on her laptop, and Miranda was curled up on the couch, sipping a glass of vodka and staring out the windows.
They hadn’t spoken much all afternoon, and Andy was nervous to say anything more. Miranda poured herself another drink and sank back against the couch.
“I can feel you staring at me,” she said quietly.
“I’m sorry,” Andy said. “I don’t know how to say this. I need to leave.”
Miranda flung her head around. “What?” she hissed.
“I need to get back to work tomorrow.”
“Can’t you go from here?”
“I have clothes and papers and my badge at home.”
“So go pick them up and come back.”
Andy took a deep breath. “Miranda, I think we need to talk. If you’d like, you can come with me to my apartment.”
The woman set down her glass and nodded. “Yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea. I’ll call a car to drive us.”
The irony of Miranda calling for a car was not lost on her. She packed up her computer and after Miranda had told the girls she would be back in a few hours, they made their way out the door.
Once in the car, Andy took the woman’s hand and turned to her. She reached up and caressed her cheek, gently tilting her chin upwards until their lips met. Pulling back after a few minutes, she waited for Miranda to open her eyes.
“I need to know what this is—what I am to you,” Andy said.
Miranda tensed and sank back against the leather seat. “I know. It seems like it all happened so fast, but really, it didn’t, did it? I’ve been falling in love with you for years,” she said. She softly stroked her hand along Andy’s arm. “I meant what I said before about wanting you to move in. I don’t handle loneliness well, as I’m sure you are aware. It seems all of my ex-husbands were just placeholders…for you.”
The young woman wasn’t expecting to hear that. “So, if the tragedy of the situation yesterday was removed, you would still be here, in this car with me, traveling back to my tiny studio apartment?”
The editor smiled. “I think so. And you?”
“Yes,” she said. The car pulled up to the curb in front of Andy’s building and she led Miranda inside.
“Andrea, this can’t be more than 300 square feet!” Miranda said as she looked around.
“I know. I told you it’s small. It’s conveniently located, and that’s what matters. Look, just sit on the bed while I gather a few things,” she said. “Pretty please?” she added with a smile.
Miranda climbed onto the twin-sized bed that was pushed up against the wall, and despite the nearness of the surrounding walls, she felt safe there in the young woman’s space. She watched the woman sorting through her closet, and she reminded her that she would get her a new wardrobe next week.
When Andy was finished packing up two bags, Miranda motioned for her to join her on the bed. “Lay with me,” she said.
She sat on the edge of the bed and took Miranda’s hand. “I don’t think we can both fit on this bed,” she said.
“Oh, be serious. Couples twice our size have been sharing twin-sized beds for ages. It’s intimate, a smaller bed like this. There’s no ‘my side’ and ‘your side’—no space in between,” she said.
Andy smiled and crawled onto the bed where she fell into the editor’s open arms. She couldn’t deny that the woman had plagued her dreams for years, but to be here with her, like this. It was all very surreal.
“I am still trying to accept what you did for you me,” Miranda said through her tears. “While half of the world is wishing for my demise, your first—or near first—instinct was to protect me. You could have chosen to hurt me, or to get ahead professionally. You were on the scene well before any other reporters, and you had an angle as a former employee. But, you didn’t. You chose me before you, and I haven’t met another human being in this lifetime who would do the same, except maybe those who were trapped in that conference room.”
Andy sat up on one elbow and looked down on the woman. She brushed her forelock out of her eye and wiped her tears away with the pads of her fingers. “I love you, Miranda. And it makes me so sad to hear that you’ve never felt this before.”
“But I feel it now, and that’s all that matters,” she whispered. “I can’t lose you.”
When they returned to the townhouse, Miranda spent some time with her daughters, explaining to them that Andrea would be staying with them for a while.
“Is this all part of the story?” Caroline asked.
“What story?” Andy asked, joining them and sitting on the couch next to Cassidy.
“The ‘story’ that you and Mom are dating. The one Leslee is using as a cover up for why Mom left the building,” Caroline snapped, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Wait—what?” Andy said.
“Sweetheart, it’s not what it sounds like,” Miranda said, quickly jumping up from her chair.
“Oh, yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like,” Caroline spat as Andy bolted from the room.
“Shut up!” Miranda shouted at Caroline. “You have business interfering with my life like this!”
Caroline was shocked to hear her mother shout at her like that, and she started to cry. Cassidy went over and sat with her sister.
“Mom, she went downstairs,” Cassidy said.
Miranda was conflicted, but nodded and ran downstairs, searching each room until she found her in the kitchen. “Thank god you didn’t leave,” she said under her breath.
“Miranda, what was Caroline talking about?”
She took a deep breath and sat on the barstool. “When I talked to Leslee after the incident, she was concerned about the negative press, specifically that I had somehow orchestrated the attack. It looked like I ran away and let those innocent people die for me. I explained to her that I was terrified once I realized what happened, that all I wanted to do was see my girls and get home. I thought that pictures of me hugging you outside the building, or with the girls at Dalton, would have been enough to sway my public image, but she disagreed. She made a comment about how if I told her you were my girlfriend and you warned me and we reunited and you came home with me, then that would be a credible counterpoint. And, well, at the time you were upstairs in the guest bedroom.”
“So you planned all this and didn’t tell me?” Andy said.
“No! I guess I could have stopped Leslee, but I didn’t want to. I felt such strong emotions towards you, and I honestly didn’t think she’d do anything with that—at least not until you and I had time to talk.” Miranda reached over for Andy’s hand. “The situation brought us together, but everything from that point was real. I have been completely honest with you, Andrea, and I can’t say that about most people.”
“And my moving in with you just makes for good press, right?” she spat, pulling her hand away.
“Darling, please. I told you, I like waking up with you.” She folded her arms on the counter and laid her head. After everything that happened in the past two days, she couldn’t believe she was going to lose her like this.
After a few minutes, Miranda felt the young woman’s hand on her shoulder. She sniffled and lifted her head, wiping the tears from her cheeks. “I’m sorry, Andrea,” she said.
“Hey, are you always like this at home?” Andy asked with a chuckle.
“Dramatic and emotional and…acquiescent.”
“Hmph," Miranda chuckled. “You forgot ‘desperate.’”
“Well, I’d appreciate it if you’d be a little less that and a little more you,” Andy said. “You know me. I think you trust me. You are not going to lose me. So, stop freaking out.”
Miranda frowned. “That is exactly what I am afraid of. I’m not usually like this, but I’ve also never really cared this much for the others in my life. They were all just means to an end.”
Andrea leaned forward and kissed her, but Miranda quickly pulled away and leaned her forehead against the young woman’s.
“Darling, I want to know more about you, and what you need from me,” she said, pressing her lips to the woman’s cheek.
“Whatever you’re doing now is working,” Andy said. “I just want to share your life with you, and eventually your daughters.”
“Yes of course,” Miranda said, moving away from their embrace. “That reminds me—I yelled at Caroline. I’ve never raised my voice at either of them like that.”
Andy’s hand trailed down and rested on Miranda’s hip. “She probably feels really bad. And for what it’s worth, you only raise your voice when you’re panicked.”
She smiled and laughed a little bit. “I love you, Andrea. And I promise I will try to put up more of a fight during any future arguments—as long as you promise you won’t leave. At least not without a conversation.”
“I think I can promise that,” she said with a smile. “And I love you, too.”
“I’m going to go check on the girls,” she said, kissing her softly before leaving the room.
When Miranda’s alarm went off at 4:50 AM the next morning, Andy groaned. Miranda silenced the shrill beeping and returned to the warmth of her bed, wrapping her arm around the young woman’s waist and pressing her lips to her neck.
“Mmm,” Andy groaned, arching her neck into the other woman’s touch.
“Good morning,” Miranda whispered. Her voice was husky with sleep.
“How did you sleep?” she asked.
“Like a dream. Just think of all the wonderful nights of sleep I’ve missed over the years. Actually, don’t think about that. Don’t think about anything that has to do with my age.”
“Miranda, you are gorgeous, and I promise you that your age is the last thing on my mind,” she said as she hugged her tightly. “Are you going in to work today?”
“No. I have to go down to the precinct and make a statement and answer questions. Leslee and David—he’s my new attorney—are meeting me there. What about you?”
“I do have to go to the office. We have our weekly meeting and then I’ll get my assignments, or get to pitch my own ideas. I’d rather handle some of the no-brainer pieces right now, though, so that will be good. I talked to the hospital yesterday and it sounds like Serena and Emily would be up for a visit.”
Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose. “I was really hoping to visit them at home, but I’ll make it work tomorrow. Do you want to come with?”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “No, the other person in my bed to whom I am speaking.”
“Sorry. Um, yeah, I can probably come with. I’m free after 1:30 or so. Want me to come meet you at the precinct?” she asked.
Miranda shook her head.
“No, I didn’t mean like that,” Andy clarified. “It’s just, my office is right across the street from the precinct. You know what,” she said, pressing a finger to Miranda’s lips to silence her protest, “I will talk to your driver and have him pick me up before he picks you up. No one will know.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, kissing Andy’s finger.
Later that morning, Andy slipped out of her meeting early and got into the town car that was waiting for her just around the block. The driver pulled around to the rear entrance of the police station, and Andy quickly sent Miranda a text letting her know she was downstairs early if needed.
No more than two minutes after she sent the text, the car door opened and Miranda entered. She looked physically drained, and without a second thought, Andy opened her arms to comfort the woman.
Miranda sighed and took a deep breath as she melted into the young woman’s touch. “I have to go back. I just needed to get away for a few minutes,” she said.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Andy asked as she ran her hands up and down Miranda’s back and arms.
“Her name was Shauna Weaver. Her daughter, Lisette, was in the girls’ class at Dalton. She hung herself two years ago.”
Andy gasped and hugged Miranda a little bit tighter.
“The girls didn’t really know her. She had been in their class since preschool, but wasn’t one of their friends. There were 75 girls in their class,” she explained. “No one really knew why Lissette took her life. I remember talking with the Headmaster and he said it didn’t have anything to do with bullying, but just that she was a troubled young woman. I can’t imagine what that would be like as a parent.”
The woman paused for a moment and Andy asked a question to fill the space. “So, did the police already talk to Em and Serena?”
“What? Yes, they did. Um, Lisette’s mother told them that her daughter was obsessed with Runway and would do anything to be a model. She said she, um, snuck into one of our shoots—we were doing this quarterly feature with local New Yorkers—and I, um, apparently told her she wasn’t what I was looking for.” Miranda swallowed hard. “Whatever I said, it made her hang herself.”
“Oh god, Miranda, no. No, no, no. I’m sure your words hurt her, but what happened was not your fault!” Andy reassured. “I’ve been on the receiving end of those words and look at how I turned out,” she said with a chuckle.
“This is not funny.”
“Sorry. I know. So, the woman, Shauna Weaver, came to Runway with a suitcase of explosives two years later, to kill you? That’s insane.”
“…and exactly what happened,” she said. “She said something about not wanting to go on without Lisette, and, and…”
“Shh,” Andy said, interrupting her and pressing a kiss to her forehead. “It’s going to be okay. You are safe.” She held her a little while longer, then Leslee interrupted with a sharp knock on the window.
Miranda rolled down the window and smoothed out her clothing. “Yes?”
“I convinced them to cut the questioning short today. The chief said he’ll be over to the townhouse tomorrow with a few detectives to finish up, is that okay with you?”
“Yes,” Miranda said, nodding and reaching over for the young woman’s hand.
Leslee bent down and looked inside the car. “Hey Andy, good to see you.”
“Hi Les, you too,” she said.
“You going to be okay, Mira?” Leslee asked, smirking.
“Oh, please. Go back to work,” Miranda said as she reached to roll the window up.
“You two seem friendlier than I remember,” Andy said.
“Yeah. After Stephen moved out, I was, well, lonely. She—”
“Wait, you and Leslee!?” Andy gasped.
“No! No, god. Her brother Lyle; she set us up.”
“Oh my gosh, you would have been sisters-in-law!” Andy giggled.
Miranda rolled her eyes. “Hardly. He was the most boring financial analyst I’ve ever met—and that’s saying something. I ended up going on a few dates with him, though, because I didn’t want to hurt Leslee’s feelings. I guess we’ve gotten friendlier since then.”
Andy smiled and squeezed her hand. “I like this side of you. Still feel up for the hospital?”
Miranda nodded and leaned forward to tap the privacy glass, letting the driver know they could leave.
They rode to the hospital in silence, and once there, Andy led them up to Claire’s room first. Miranda didn’t work that closely with Claire, but regardless, she wanted to visit and thank her.
Meanwhile, Andy went to find Emily and Serena, who were not surprisingly in the same room.
“So, you and Miranda?” Serena asked.
Andy blushed. “Yeah. And you two? You’re finally together?”
“Bloody hell, does everybody know?” Emily said.
Andy giggled. “Well, you two didn’t exactly hide anything.”
“And you’ve got no place to talk. Anyway, you’re with Miranda and I’m with Emily and we’re all very happy, right?” Serena asked.
“Well, yes. But how are you two doing? I mean, the whole situation is horrifying,” Andy said. “And you know, I’d have been there right with you if—”
Emily nodded. “Elizabeth was one of the good ones.”
“She was,” Miranda said from the doorway.
Emily gasped. All eyes turned to the doorway, and Andy walked over and slipped her arm around the woman’s waist. Miranda smiled and leaned into the woman’s shoulder.
“How are you two doing?” she asked.
“The doctor says I can go home tomorrow. Serena was technically discharged today, but I think she’s staying with me. We moved in together six months ago,” Emily said.
“Oh, well, I’m glad you have someone. If there’s anything I can do…I know there isn’t. Believe me, I would have already done it. But please know that I feel horrible about everything that’s happened,” Miranda admitted.
“I know how you can make it up to us,” Serena said. “You and Andy can have me and Em over for dinner once things have settled.”
Miranda’s eyes widened. “Of course. Oh, you are welcome anytime,” she said. She moved closer to where Serena was sitting and awkwardly hugged her. “I am so glad you are alright,” she whispered.
She turned to the bed where Emily was sitting and reached over, hugging her tightly as she whispered into her ear. “I am so glad you are okay. I promise I will try to be better about showing my gratitude.” She pulled away and gently cupped the young woman’s cheek as she looked her directly in the eye. “You are so valuable to Runway and to me. I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate you. I hope you’ll give me the chance to make it up to you.”
Emily nodded. “Thank you, Miranda,” she whispered.
Miranda stepped away and joined Andrea near the foot of the bed. “We know you need your rest and everything, so we should be going,” Andy said. “You both have my number, so call or text me whenever.”
“Yes, and please let us know if there’s anything we can do. We’ll plan on dinner in a few weeks,” Miranda said.
Emily and Serena said their goodbyes and thanked them for visiting, and the two women made their way down the hall and back out to the waiting car.
“We’re going back to the townhouse,” Andy told the driver.
Miranda stopped and tugged at Andy’s wrist, leaning over and whispering into her ear. “Actually, can we stop at your apartment? Cara is at the house for a few more hours.”
Andy smirked. “I have a feeling that life with you will always be interesting. You will always keep me guessing.”
“Mm-hmm,” Miranda nodded. “And you will always keep me safe.”
“I will,” Andrea said. And somehow, she knew that even though it had only been two days, she would commit her life to loving Miranda and keeping her safe, knowing the sentiments were returned.